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After the Woods Hardcover – February 23, 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review 10/14/15)
✪ AFTER THE WOODS 
Even after surviving the kind of ordeal most people don't, Julia still doesn't feel safe.
Julia thought she knew what evil was: Donald Jessup was the man she'd had to escape from after he attacked her and her best friend, Liv, in the woods nearly a year ago. And he's dead, killed by his own hand in jail. So why does she still feel the need to investigate her own case? Why does she keep a notebook of evidence and discoveries? When a dead body is found in those same woods, Julia starts asking more question and even lets local reporter Paula Papademitriou help her in exchange for an exclusive interview. But the information Paula unearths makes Julia rethink her memories, her relationships, and Liv's secrets. Savage offers up a mystery wrapped in a psychological breakthrough tied with the bow of lyrical language. The characters are engaging beyond their habitation of an intricately woven plot and supply readers with the motivation to care beyond the simple solving of the mystery. The mystery, in fact, almost pales in comparison to the richness of the relationships, Julia's discovery of her own strength, and the examination of the different forms of evil.

A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect. (Mystery. 14-18) 

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—The one time Julia runs fast enough to keep up with her best friend, Liv, during their training in the woods, she witnesses Liv get attacked by a strange man. Julia intervenes, putting herself in danger instead. Abducted by the man, Julia escapes two days later. She insists to Liv, her therapist, and her mother that she survived the attack relatively unscathed. After a body surfaces in the same woods almost a year later, Julia starts to experience post-traumatic stress disorder-related flashbacks and realizes that there's more to the story than the news coverage. She's not sure who to trust anymore but enlists the help of her mousy neighbor, a glamorous newscaster, and the dreamy son of the local police chief to unravel the connections. The plot is twisty and dramatic; the references to trauma and abuse are more titillating than profound, giving the serious subject matter a breathless tone. At times it seems like the author tries to address too many timely subjects instead of delving more deeply into one or two, and some of the characterizations seem forced, but the writing is clear and accessible. VERDICT An entertaining, if choppy mystery that will appeal to fans of Law & Order-type plots.—Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (February 23, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374300550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374300555
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
4.5 Stars

'After the Woods' is a chilling young adult mystery/thriller novel that will have readers eagerly devouring its pages to see what will happen next. The story is unique and original with rounded characters and a plot full of unexpected twists and turns. One of the things that makes this book so different from others like it is that the story doesn't focus solely on what happened while our main character, Julia, was in the woods. It deals almost entirely with what happens in Julia's life after she was rescued. I found this to be a refreshing vantage point and it didn't take away from the suspense at all. Julia - our main character and narrator - was taken into the woods by a dangerous man and stayed there for 48 hours. We learn bits and pieces of what happened during that time as Julia experiences flashbacks that allow her to remember details of those days that had been previously locked away in her mind. I loved trying to decipher all of the memories and figure out what happened before the characters do - it's one of the many reasons why I love this genre so much.

Aside from the flashbacks and details of what happened to Julia in the woods, we get to see how the experience changed her and Liv - the friend she rescued from the attacker. This was a very intriguing part of the book and I enjoyed seeing how the experience had changed each girl. During this part of the novel, we are able to see the real life consequences Julia and Liv must deal with every day. It speaks in detail about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and how the trauma impacted Julia's life and changed her in so many ways. I really liked that the author included this topic in the book because it's so relevant to the story and to today's society.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really liked this book, but I have to say I didn't like Liv at all. I felt for her when I found out some things, but overall, she's not a good person. I like Julia and think she did a good job trying to find out what the true story was in the book! Overall, a good book that I couldn't put down until I figured out the end game.

MY FULL REVIEWS:
[...]
[...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Grade: A

Sometimes I read a book that's so compelling, I start and can't stop until I'm finished. The sign of an even better novel is when I keep stopping, because that story is so mesmerizing I can't bear the thought of finishing. AFTER THE WOODS grabbed me by the throat as I fell in love with Julia, who saved her best friend Liv from a madman only to have been captured for two harrowing days before escaping herself.

But AFTER THE WOODS is so much more than a story of survival. Debut writer Kim Savage masterfully wove mystery and intrigue into this psychological thriller as Julia learns that her kidnapping may have been more complicated than a random act of violence. Nobody wants her asking questions. Not her mother. Not Liv. Not even her therapist. The only one who seems to support her quest is a reporter trying to stay relevant.

Savage created a sympathetic character in Julia, multidimensional and complex. Liv's mother was the only flat character, but her narcissism was so delicious she was impossible not to love-to-hate.

I could figure out some of the angles, but that only added to my enjoyment because of the psychological component to AFTER THE WOODS. Kim Savage is on my radar as an author I will preorder under any circumstance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story kept me awake most of the night!

NOT your typical thriller. It doesn't rely on well-worn plot devices or sickening details to draw you in, though it doesn't shy away from what's difficult. The tight writing, unpredictable plot, emotional complexity and fascinating characters are what kept me reading and reading.

I experienced the characters, not as the usual mystery/ thriller stereotypes ("damaged victim"; "guilty survivor"; "ruthless journalist", "psycho loner" etc.) but as real people who had very different, layered motivations for what they did in the past and are doing now. Some of the writing was so deeply poignant, such as when we are taken inside the home of the criminal's mother, that it disturbed me even more deeply than some of the more apparent crimes in the book. The crime of anyone being so lonely, so uncared for as the woman in that scene is all the more scary because it's more probable some among us may actually experience it, as opposed to being abducted in the woods! Each and every character received this remarkable treatment; a peeling away of surface after surface until something unexpected makes you have to pause and read it over again!

Savage's clear, discerning eye and deft writing present us with many truths. Then we're allowed to decide for ourselves how we feel about them.

A sharp story that goes deep and stays with you. I'm still thinking about it.
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Format: Hardcover
AFTER THE WOODS looked like a taut thriller. I was hooked; I had to see how two friends were affected by being attacked, with one of them being held captive, by a man in the woods. I borrowed it from the library as soon as it was available--I needed answers. As much as I wanted the mystery solved, as I kept reading, questions started popping up and I was left feeling like I had been put through a test with no payoff.

***THIS REVIEW MAY HAVE SPOILERS***

Julia and her "best friend" Liv encounter a man in the woods while jogging. Liv is attacked, and in an effort to save her, Julia exchanges her life for her friend's, only once the trade is made, Liv leaves Julia behind. This sounded compelling, and it was at first. Julia is eventually rescued and now we catch up with her as she tries to pick up on life after her kidnapping,which means hovering vigilance from her mother, constant media attention, and the oblivious ambivalence of Liv. I was flipping through the pages as quickly as I could. Kim Savage's writing is twisty and compelling, and she makes Julia's voice strong. There's a scene where she talks to someone about her abduction that hit all the right notes with me. This was the best part of the book.

But my issues with the plot were rampant. As much as you sympathize with Julia, she is an unreliable narrator. This is both a pro and a con: you understand why she hides behind sarcasm with everyone close to her, but at the same time it's a crutch because she's keeping everyone who wants to help her at a distance. She trusts a local reporter more than her own mother because the reporter treats her like a person, only with tough consequences after.
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